It's been a rough start to the season for the team and for the players, individually. Most are having difficulty finding their form, none have been consistent, and many have been injured. However, due to pride or PR departments, or both, players rarely express what is clear to anyone who has been paying attention: that we just haven't been very good.
The honeymoon period with Owen Coyle is undoubtedly over. As the results go, his relationship with the fans is becoming more and more strained. It only gets worse in relation to the players, especially the on-pitch leaders, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Gary Cahill, and of course Kevin Davies.Our skipper has been receiving his fair share of criticism from the fans, and perhaps more. He's also obviously been under pressure from inside the club, as for the first time in a long time, he found himself on the bench not because he needed a rest, but because he hadn't earned the nod.
While his exile only lasted one match, and he was back on the teamsheet against Chelsea, it made enough of an impression on SKD that he's been giving some very frank interviews. In the first he got to the root of fans' discontent.
"[W]e might not be expected to beat the top teams, we need to compete better. The manner of the defeats hasn't been good enough and competing is becoming more difficult."
No one was reasonably expecting that many points from that run of fixtures, and it's easy to hide behind that excuse. What people were expecting was to see at least a hint of the team that was in the top half of the table for most of last season. The team that suddenly, everyone liked again, after being continually voted one of the most hated teams in the league under Gary Megson.
Coyle set high standards with his first full season, both stylistically and results wise, but without Stu Holden so far he's failed to meet them. Holden's absence is terrible, any team would hate to lose a player of that quality, but it remains a lame excuse when there are 10 other players on the field.
"I don't think my form has been great and I rightly found myself out of the side... There's competition for places now and I found myself out of the reckoning. Maybe that's what I needed."
Maybe the reality check of the bench is what Kevin Davies needed, and maybe this run of form is what Bolton needed. The mighty Wanderers needed to be reminded that top 10 standings and attractive football don't just happen, they are earned. The Bolton Wanderers currently sit bottom of the Premiership with only 3 points and a goal difference that hurts my eyes, but this is good. From here, there is only up.